I'm very glad I chose to put this program together as a trial run for April 2009. I've learned a lot of applied lessons that will make the National Public Health Week version go much smoother. So if nothing else, this has been an informative proof of concept.
Items learned, in no particular order:
- The most common reason for refusal was time. People leaving had other things to get to and even those coming in often had a limited amount of time to spend in the library.
- A couple of the tips didn't work well as comic themes, so I won't use them in later sessions.
- Instructions should be in two parts: the first part is short and to the point, with the second having additional info if a person has more questions. People will often just glance at the instructions and only read the first couple entries, so giving them a quick outline of the project in a few lines is important. The additional info is for the people who do read in-depth so they don't have to ask as many questions.
- Candy is a great way to get children and even teens interested in participating. Not being strict with the quantity dispensed builds good will and positive feelings. One group relatively unaffected by the offer of candy: adult males.
- In the vein of being more generous with the candy, I'm going to allow people to earn more candy by submitted multiple comics. This should appeal to kids, who are all about acquiring as much candy as they can (I know I was when I was that age). The next couple sessions are in the Children's Department, so I expect adding "make more comics, get more candy" to the instructions will increase participation.
- There are parents who don't want their kids getting candy. I knew a couple of parents like this when I was young and always felt sorry for their children. In the future, having an alternate to candy may help get them on board. For National Public Health Week 2009, this will likely be stickers.
- If there's one person sitting at a table, people will tend to sit across from that person. So keep the side you're sitting on unobstructed.
- Loading clipboards with the templates and pencils ahead of time was a good move. It allowed me to hand them out quickly. I'll continue to use that approach. Another trick with the clipboards was that for horizontally oriented strips, put them in the board with the right side (the last panel) under the clip. I had a couple people almost miss the first word bubble of a comic because it was covered up.
- The phrase "earn some candy" is a good one. If you just say "free candy" people may take the candy and not do the comic.
- Some people mistook the table for donation collection or one of those "Could you take a survey?" projects. A larger banner and/or advertising of the event beforehand might prevent this error.
I took video for most of it, though the audio quality is rather poor. I'll go through it and see what's worth posting. I opted to skip taking photos since it might have scared some people away.